Communication is hard.

Communication is hard.

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<Darxus>if ($hostcount % 1000 == 0 and time - $lasttime > 60) { $lasttime = time; &report(0); }
<Darxus>I really don't think that will ever be difficult for me to instantly grasp.
<revdiablo>Darxus: You might forget it was an optimization and think it's part of the algorithm
<Darxus>revdiablo: I really don't think so, but thanks for your concern.
<Darxus>And I *am* very concerned about future readability.
<ew73>revdiablo: Darxus is sort of an ass?
<Darxus>I swear I do not understand how I manage to offend people :/
<Darxus>I mean sometimes, sure. But for stating my confidence that I'll understand this if() in the future?
<revdiablo>Darxus: "Thanks for your concern" comes across sarcastic and snippy. Doesn't really bother me, but it could bother some.
<Darxus>It was sincere.
<Darxus>People are so fucking complicated to communicate with.
<Darxus>revdiablo: I appreciate the explanation.

And this was people who program for fun.

  • You're surprised? Communicating without tone or body language is tricky, and online communications have gotten increasingly snarky over the last few years, so yes, people assume something that may be sarcastic (as with most people, that phrase would be) is.
    • No, I'm not surprised. I know I unintentionally offend people all the time. I'm glad to have a better understanding of at least one reason. And... I don't like it.
  • if someone tol me "you might forget", i'd consider that pretty condescending, unless they there was a lot more background... so telling them what you did? would seem a kindness...

  • The thing is, “thanks for your concern” is a stock phrase that probably would have read as sincere at some point in the middle of the last century, but it’s been so solidified as a cliché implying insincerity and condescension that it’s hard not to read that into it now. Saying roughly the same thing with different words would make it easier to read the sentiment as serious instead of sarcastic or condescending — for instance, “thanks for the suggestion” or “thanks for the idea” or “I understand the concern”. It’s not that the individual words wouldn’t add up to say what you mean, it’s that the whole phrase “thank you for your concern” has taken on a specialized use that eclipses the meaning of the individual words.

    (For another example, if somebody writes “I didn’t manage to do this last time I tried, but after all the practicing I’ve been doing I’m sure this time is going to work,” you can reply either “Yeah!” or “Right!” and they’ll know you’re agreeing with them, but if you type ”Yeah, right!” that’ll probably be taken as sarcastic.)
  • The time I spend agonizing over whether ending a sentence with an ellipsis might be misinterpreted . . . well, it's a lot of time.
  • That is a classic

    Text loses the inflection that, in voice communication, tells someone a lot about whether you're sincere. Since the word pattern is the same (or at least very similar) between sincere and sarcastic, most of the difference is stripped off in electronic forms.
  • people as emotion machines

    In addition to many of the things said with which I agree, people are first emotional engines and intellects second. Worse, for any individual there's really no "person", more like four dozen little personalities all competing for Front Stage Center. Ego exists to sort all these out, and keep things from being totally chaotic. It also serves to maintain the illusion that we have free will.

    Evidence? No direct link to the papers or area of study right now, but there was a remarkable experience reported in SCIENCE within the last 5 years showing that our unconscious/subconscious knows what we've decided to do about something many many seconds before we are aware of it. I found the experimental technique to be especially clever.

    This comes up all the time when trying to teach people about science, or about statistics, or about risk, or about math. Points are we need discipline to know NOT to buy that lottery ticket ....

    There are simple things to do that can help -- like the notion of micromorts for risk. But people need to understand and use them even then, and they often don't.

    That thing about things online getting increasingly snarky ... I think it's really a reflection of how the culture is going, and it spills online because it's easiest to express there and because that's where a lot of communication is happenin' these days. Over at armscontrolwonk someone noted "We’re just becoming a rabble of non-analytical brutes" (Andrew Tubbiolo). I strongly agree with that. This inability to analyze and properly debate is why We The People find governing so hard.
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